194 – July 13 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Why Baptists are “teetotalers”


William Rufus Powell was born into a godly home on Nov. 13, 1808, where daily devotions were conducted by his father. That home was the center of spiritual activity as visiting preachers would stay in the “prophet’s chamber.” Tragically his mother died when he was only eight and his father and older sisters did their best to carry on the family traditions. William studied under the Rev. Herndon Frazer and then at the age of 17 pursued the study of Law, moving to the home of Capt. Therit Towles. At the age of 21 William became a school master and married Towles daughter Mary who lived with an aunt in Culpepper, Virginia. In a short time he became a deputy sheriff to his father-in-law and settled down to a farmer’s life on a plantation. He began to read widely and would sleep no more than four hours per night to pursue his studies which habit lasted the rest of his life. A godly sister’s correspondence in spiritual matters gained no interest on his part but his wife was successful in getting him to attend Mine Run Baptist Church to hear Rev. Philip Pendleton. William’s heart was strangely moved and the Bible became vital to him. He found a little grove where he cried out to God in prayer for pardon. He and Mary were baptized into Mine Run Church, and soon he was licensed by the church to preach. After the pastor died, William was ordained and called as the pastor of the church. He became a zealous advocate of missions.  He is best known for his position on strong drink. He contended that churches should not allow the use of beverage alcohol by its members, total abstinence. Turmoil over this issue developed in the association. The majority in Powell’s church did not agree with him, therefore he left and formed another one. He won in the end however, because in time his views on this issue became the position of the Baptists.


Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 286-88.




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